In the final moments before one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Dravon Henry waited for his mother.
It was Shanell Henry's birthday Monday, and she was running late to see her son, one of the highest-rated high school football players in Pennsylvania, announce where he was going to attend college.
Once she arrived, Henry proceeded with his news conference, and, with his mother sitting at his side, he paused mid-sentence, wiping away tears before revealing which school he selected -- West Virginia.
Henry, a four-star defensive back from Aliquippa, committed to the Mountaineers, selecting them over Pitt and Miami. It represented the final stage in the recruitment of arguably the WPIAL's most-coveted player in the 2014 class, a decision that was equal parts euphoria and alleviation.
"It's a relief, man," Henry said. "You can see it's a relief for everybody in this room, not just me. Everybody is smiling and happy, and that's why I think I made the right decision."
Henry is listed as the 149th-best prospect nationally by Rivals.com, placing him second among all players in Pennsylvania behind only Gateway's Montae Nicholson (135). Recruited as a defensive back, Henry also was a standout running back for the Quips, rushing for more than 5,000 yards in his high school career.
Henry's decision came down to having a greater level of comfort at West Virginia than anywhere else, particularly with Mountaineers assistant coach Tony Gibson.
"It seemed like when I talked to him, a whole bunch of stress came off my shoulders," Henry said. "It felt like home talking with him. I didn't have that feeling at Pitt."
Henry becomes the 17th member of West Virginia's 2014 recruiting class, a list that could expand in a matter of days. Defensive lineman Jaleel Fields, Henry's teammate who has West Virginia among his final three schools, will announce his college choice Wednesday.
Fellow Aliquippa native Rushel Shell, a Mountaineers running back who transferred from Pitt, tweeted about Henry's commitment, which violates an NCAA bylaw prohibiting players from publicly contacting unsigned recruits. The school's compliance department was alerted to the potential minor violation.
Henry's decision goes against what has long been considered an Aliquippa-to-Pitt pipeline, one that recently has produced such players as Darrelle Revis, Sean Gilbert and Jonathan Baldwin.
Once he settled on a school, Henry flew to Florida last week to clear his mind and remove himself from the situation.
Where some might feel pressure from loved ones to stay at home and go to Pitt, Henry said he felt little to none of that, something that helped make the choice easier.
"I asked everybody in my corner 'What school do you like?' and not one of them gave me an answer," Henry said.
"All of them said they wanted me to do what is best for me at the end of the day. They just want to see me succeed in life and do what's best for me."
Staff writer Stephen J. Nesbitt contributed. Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG. First Published December 9, 2013 1:29 PM